More Housing Is Coming – But the National Shortage Will Persist

By: - September 8, 2022 12:00 am

Concrete carpenter Omar Miranda works on new townhouses in North Salt Lake, Utah, one of the states struggling to get more housing built because most residents can’t afford existing homes. Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via The Associated Press

Read more Stateline coverage of how communities across the country are trying to create more affordable housing.

Local officials across the country have approved more than a million construction permits for new single-family and multifamily housing this year. That’s up by nearly a third since 2019 and more than double the number from a decade ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Compared with the first seven months of 2019, Texas has issued 55,000 more permits, and Florida has issued 47,000 more this year. The number of permits issued is up by 17,000 in North Carolina, 14,000 in Arizona and more than 10,000 in California, where the state has tried to force municipalities to make it easier to construct new housing.

The number of permits issued declined only in Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois and the District of Columbia, a Stateline analysis shows.

Nevertheless, experts say it could take nearly a decade to erase the nation’s housing shortage, which has driven up home prices and rents, pricing out many lower- and middle-income families. A Freddie Mac report released last year said the nation was short some 3.8 million units in 2020, up from 2.5 million in 2018. Experts cite a slowdown in building after the housing bubble of the late 2000s, with starter homes particularly lacking.

Furthermore, labor shortages and supply-chain issues have lengthened the time between the issuance of permits and construction. And some local officials across the country have resisted state plans to increase housing.

“How many people are living with relatives or friends and can’t find a house? The safety net we have is generated by home ownership, and we’re losing that,” said Utah state Rep. Steve Waldrip, a Republican who sponsored a recent law that gives localities with more affordable housing an easier route to state transportation funding.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.